Biopunk? A basic rundown of the Biopunk subgenre.

Biopunk can be described as a subgenre of science fiction centered around biotechnology and similar topics. This subgenre comes from cyberpunk but is mainly focused on the effects of biotechnology and not on information technology. It is commonly involved with synthetic biology or enhanced biology. Results of which are mainly coming from cyberpunk with a few quirks. These quirks include mega-biotechnology, hackers, companies and tyrannical governments that manipulate human DNA for their own benefit. This whole sub category of sci fi, which is usually found in the aftermath of cyberpunk. As a result, it generally explores the darker side of DNA and genetic manipulation and concerns the lower part of biotechnology.


An in depth look at Biopunk

The main themes of this genre focus on short-term (mostly unintended) after effects. The effects are of the biotechnological manipulation revolution that is the result of the discovery of new DNA. Typical stories study and investigate the struggle of both individuals and groups, often being the product of experiments. The experiments are set in a dystopian setting typical of authoritarian governments and large corporations. Of course they use biotech as a means of social control and profit.

biopunk art
Biopunk warping

Biopunk Literature examples

As in post-cyberpunk fiction, as can be listed from all generations of the past, individuals are usually not modified by software, but genetic and improved DNA manipulations. A common theme of biopunk fiction is the “black clinic”, a laboratory, clinic or hospital that performs illegal, unregulated or unethical biological manipulation and genetic modification procedures. Many features of biopunk fiction come from Neuromancer, one of the first cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, who is commonly referenced as the Godfather of the genre.

Biopunk heart
Biopunk rendering of a heart

Futuristic genetic and biological improvements can give the excluded and the tools they need to be virtuous (or bad) rebels of the future. This is the essence of biopunk: the subversives that use futuristic biotechnology.

If you haven’t gathered by now, it combines punk with biological technology and bio-augmentation, which is generally focused on genetic manipulation and biotechnology. Expect to see a lot of biological technology, carved bodies and people walking in the zoo or hopping, swimming, flying, sliding, etc. Many buildings and ships will be rebuilt and the problems studied may be those of the baby designer.

More differences between Biopunk and Cyberpunk

It should be noted that the boundary between these two genres is very thin and that most cyberpunk stories contain limited BioPunk elements. The line between it and Post-Cyberpunk, another subgenre of cyberpunk is sometimes even thinner and less cruel, with Post-Cyberpunk sharing many more elements with Biopunk and not using as many cyberpunk elements as its predecessor because of the Fuzzy concept. Of course the last one is between BioPunk and SolarPunk, yes this is a real thing, will use elements or more, but on the contrary, as a good thing for all kinds of future and almost everything compromises what has been said in the previous section.

Biopunk Literature, believe it or not, has existed for a long time. The first proto-credible biopunk novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, written by HG Wells in 1896. The element “punk” exists because Dr. Moreau is willing to experiment that his “normal” scientific colleagues consider banned. An unbiased, of sorts, analysis of the film “Blade Runner” concludes that the film is just as much biopunk as cyberpunk. Replicates are cyborgs that contain a combination of mechanical reinforcement in addition to parts of biological origin, such as the eyes. In the film, we suspect that an advanced form of the internet exists, but we do not see much of it. Can you think of any other literature that would fall into this category?